Carpenter can’t get ball to Kimbrel

For the better part of the past five months, the Braves bullpen managed to get the ball to closer Craig Kimbrel. Despite losing their top two set-up men to season-ending elbow surgeries, they found a way to close the gap and still led the majors with a 2.46 bullpen ERA.

But with a one-run lead to protect in Game 4 of the division series and two outs to get to hand the ball to Kimbrel with a shot to prolong their 2013 season, right-hander David Carpenter gave up a gut-wrenching two-run home run to Juan Uribe.

Veteran relievers Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters, among the traveling Braves injured in the dugout Monday night, could only console.

“It was my fault,” said Carpenter, who hung a slider to Uribe catcher Brian McCann wanted low and away. “I’m the reason that we’re not going back to Atlanta tied 2-2. I’ll take the responsibility for it every time. I let the guys down. It kills me. It kills me to have to say that.”

Carpenter had a catch in his throat as he said the words.

He could have been another part of the feel-good story the Braves had working Monday, joining castoff pitcher Freddy Garcia who was in line for the win and last-man-on-the-roster Jose Constanza who had driven in the go-ahead run.

The Braves had claimed Carpenter off waivers from the Red Sox in November. He had risen from the fringe of the Braves roster – the extra “arm” who traveled back and forth from Triple-A Gwinnett to Atlanta - to become Kimbrel’s primary set-up man after Jordan Walden battled late-season injuries.

Carpenter featured a mid-90s fastball and a slider that he refined with the help of Braves veteran starter Tim Hudson.

He was firing his fastball in the upper 90s in the eighth inning Monday night, but Yasiel Puig spoiled one of them for a leadoff double. Uribe had every intention of bunting Puig to third base to try to manufacture a run, but after fouling off two attempts for two strikes, he started to swing away. Three pitchers later, Uribe had his two-run home run to left field and 54,438 at Dodger Stadium rocking.

Carpenter got through the rest of the eighth inning and there never was a ninth. Kimbrel never got the ball, even though Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he had lined it up to bring in Kimbrel for a four-out save.

“You don’t want it to ever end the way we ended today,” Gonzalez said afterward. “But we had the right guy out there. Carp has been good for us. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

That’s a message Garcia, Justin Upton and others had already tried to deliver to Carpenter in the Braves dugout after the game.

“Keep your head up,” Garcia said he told Carpenter. “Don’t get it in your head because it happens. You’ve got a long career. You’ve got a great arm. Just keep working, keep pitching because it happens to the greatest. You pitch long enough you’re going to have a lot of those, but you’re going to see success most of the time.”